February is National Heart Month. Heart disease (including stroke) is the #1 killer of women, claiming 1 in 3 lives each year—more than all cancers combined. The symptoms of heart disease can also be different in women than men, and are often misunderstood. Amazingly though, heart disease is 80% preventable with a heart healthy lifestyle. That’s why it’s so important to take the time to learn the facts and take charge of your heart health.
According to the CDC, almost two-thirds of women who die suddenly of coronary heart disease have no previous symptoms. High blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol, and smoking are key risk factors for heart disease, and about half of all Americans have at least one of these three risk factors. Luckily, there are several measures you can take to reduce your risk and detect any potential problems early on! These include regular exercise, a balanced diet, and routine checkups.
It's also important to be able to recognize symptoms of heart disease, and act quickly on early warning signs. Symptoms may include:
- Heart Attack: Chest pain or discomfort, upper back pain, indigestion, heartburn, nausea/vomiting, extreme fatigue, upper body discomfort, and shortness of breath.
- Arrhythmia: Fluttering feelings in the chest (palpitations).
- Heart Failure: Shortness of breath, fatigue, swelling of the feet/ankles/legs/abdomen.
- Stroke: Sudden weakness, paralysis (inability to move) or numbness of the face/arms/legs, especially on one side of the body. Other symptoms may include: confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech, difficulty seeing in one or both eyes, shortness of breath, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination, loss of consciousness, or sudden and severe headache.
Most of us know someone who has been affected by heart disease, be it a family member, friend, colleague, or even ourselves. Whatever your connection to the disease, there’s no time like the present to band together and educate ourselves and the women we love. Now that you know the importance of a heart-healthy lifestyle and detecting symptoms early on, we hope you’ll join us in spreading awareness and empowering the women in your life to take charge of their heart health!
To learn more about the stats, facts, risk factors, and symptoms, visit the links below.
Heart Disease Facts: https://www.cdc.gov/heartdiseasefacts
Women & Heart Disease: https://www.cdc.gov/women&heartdisease